Ombudsman junks Aquino's appeal in Mamasapano case

The Ombudsman's decision to charge Aquino was contained in a resolution issued last July 14.

The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed the inclusion of former President Benigno Aquino III among the personalities who will be charged over the Mamasapano incident in 2015.

Based on the original complaint, Aquino was accused of disregarding Purisima's suspension by the Ombudsman when he allowed the latter to actively participate in the planning and execution of Oplan Exodus for the capture or neutralization of wanted global terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and his cohort, Akmad Ahmad Batabol alias Basit Usman.

"The Office finds probable cause that [former] President Aquino's act of utilizing the services of the preventively suspended Purisima for Oplan Exodus caused Purisima to perform, under pretense of official position the acts pertaining to the PNP Chief without being lawfully entitled to do so, in violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code on usurpation of official functions", the Ombudsman said. At the time, Purisima was serving out a 90-day suspension on a corruption probe.

The Ombudsman also insisted on charging Aquino with graft and usurpation of authority instead of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, as this carried a higher penalty of up to 15 years in jail from just 4 years and 2 months.

He said the two charges were "totally separate, distinct, and different from the charges" leveled against him in the complaint, in violation of his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

Complainants added that the first act that set off the chain of events that led to the death of SAF 44 was Aquino's reckless imprudence and negligence in at least three instances: approving Oplan Exodus which was later found to have serious flaws; allowing suspended Purisima to lead and oversee Oplan Exodus, tactically, strategically and operationally; and failing to send reinforcement and aid to the SAF 44 as they were besieged by superior anti-government forces, until they died. Marwan was killed while Usman escaped.

He said he needed Purisima to explain to him the technical details of Oplan Exodus that was presented by Napeñas.

The Ombudsman disagreed with both camps.

Aquino will be the third former president since Joseph Estrada to stand criminal trial.

"While a President of the Republic is certainly possessed with broad discretionary powers, the exercise thereof must not, however, be done in violation of a law or laws, much less when such exercise constitutes a crime", the Ombudsman said in the order.

Aquino's former spokesperson Abigail Valte says, the former chief executive's legal team is meeting this afternoon to determine their next course of action.

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